While social factors have been correlated with health outcomes across a number of domains, few interventions effectively operationalize social support. Smartphones are uniquely suited to fill this gap. The smartphone is our most intimate computing device; highly personal, always-on, and uniquely social.
QuitBuddy, a new program in development at MD Anderson Cancer Center, seeks to activate the possibilities offered by smartphone technology to support effective tobacco cessation and maintenance.
In this highly collaborative project, SCI co-developed the QuitBuddy concept and delivered application prototypes, and assisted with preliminary feasibility and usability testing of the Android application.
QuitBuddy facilitates and promotes the exchange of social support. Users are encouraged to invite buddies to “co-quit” tobacco use, resulting in the creation of a private micro social network whose members work together throughout the cessation process.
The system suggests a variety supportive messages that may be sent to a struggling buddy, based on that buddy’s unique state at check-in. The system also allows message senders to customize outgoing missives.
In contrast to an expert system whereby messages are delivered from “the machine”, in QuitBuddy, the expert message comes directly from your friends…just in time and tailored to how you’re feeling right now.
While QuitBuddy is initially focused on tobacco cessation and maintenance, we assert that the QuitBuddy model is broadly applicable to many other treatment domains.